The numbers are staggering. York Adopt a Pet took in a record breaking 525 cats and kittens in 2018. Thankfully our adoption numbers were up so we are once again at about the same number of cats and kittens at the shelter and in foster care.
I recently read an article on Facebook which helped to explain why there are so many cats found as strays and never reclaimed. Many who work with shelter cats already know this, but I wanted to share with our readers why more dogs are claimed and a very low percentage of cats are never claimed.
According to these figures, 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen each year and a whopping one in three will be lost at some point in their lives. Nobody knows how many of these end up at shelters, but the ASPCA statics show that of the 3.4 million cats brought into public shelters each year, only about 2 percent are claimed, whereas the rate for dogs is 25-30 percent.
Unfortunately the figures also contain the fact that cats are “throw away” pets. More cats are put outside to fend for themselves on the average than lost or stolen. People just don’t worry about cats fending for themselves. They could not be more grossly uninformed. When you are the ones taking in these injured, frightened, starving, many times pregnant and raging with untreatable diseases, you would NEVER “throw away” an unwanted cat. You would take it to your local shelter. Believe me there are much worse things than death when it comes to animals.
For those cats who are truly lost, they tend to hunker down and hide in silence. A cat who comes to his name inside the house will typically not respond to being called outside.
Cats are far less likely to allow a stranger to approach them and take them to safety. It can take days, weeks, or even months to coax a lost or stray cat into allowing handling. Some end up needing to be trapped. By the time cats like this end up at a shelter, their owners have often stopped looking.
Cats are less likely than their canine counterparts to sport a collar with identification. They are also less likely to be microchipped.
Owners often check the shelter right after their cat goes missing. But rarely do they continue checking for the weeks or months needed. A lost cat’s behaviors make it more likely for the cat to end up at a shelter LONG after it went missing.
If the shelters have been notified, owners assume the shelter will notify them if a similar cat comes in. That may happen if the cat is unique looking or if the cat was brought in soon after the report, but few shelters are going to call you every time a black cat or tabby or tuxedo comes in. There are simply too many.
Grief avoidance leads some owners to just give up and go on with their life. Psychologically, it is easier for owners to conclude that their cat is dead, but it doesn’t help the cat when they show up at the shelter weeks or months later and nobody is looking for them.
Free roaming cats are all around us, so a new cat in the neighborhood may not be identified as lost. For some, stray cats are just part of the landscape and their presence isn’t noticed unless the population gets too high or they become a nuisance.
Most shelters will take a stray in and hold for three days before placing the cat up for adoption. Enough time is given to determine if the cat is truly a “feral” (untamed cat) or one that is just extremely scared and stressed having been living on his/her own for several days, weeks or months.
You can help. If you see a stray cat, report it to the police department and York Adopt a Pet. Don’t think it will automatically go “back home.”
If you find a cat or lose a cat, contact the FB Lost and Found Animals and have the administrator post the animal. Try to take as clear a picture as possible. Include theaddress, city and state where it was found or lost. Be sure to have the post so it can be shared. FB has been a valuable tool in reuniting pets back with their homes. Be diligent. Notice that cat you have seen in your back yard. Report it immediately.
Cats like January and Scooby would love to have a second chance at a loving, caring and forever home.